Great news! Today, we’re announcing the first six teams to officially compete for the New Organ Liver Prize. These teams represent scientists from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research, University College of London, University of Florida, University of Oxford, University of Pittsburgh, and Yokohama City University, and are being led by:
Dr. Tahera Ansari (Team Hepavive): Pursuing the ‘decell-recell’ approach to bioengineering a liver.
Dr. Stephen Badylak (Team Badylak): A pioneer in biologic scaffolds using extracellular matrix.
Dr. Eric Lagasse (Team Ectogenesis): Grew mini-livers inside the lymph nodes of mice with liver disease.
Dr. Bryon Petersen (Team Petersen): An authority on the role of hepatic stem cells in liver pathology.
Dr. Takanori Takebe (Team Organ Creative): Created tiny ‘liver buds’ that grew and functioned in mice.
Dr. Basak Uygun (Team HepaTx): First proof-of-principle transplantation of engineered liver grafts.
For full bios, please visit the team page at our website. Additional teams are also under review and will be announced in a future update.
Good luck to all!
GROWING THE NEW ORGAN ALLIANCE
On July 29th, New Organ facilitated a meeting hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services that brought together 10 federal agencies and other stakeholders to explore current efforts in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM) and the role that incentivized innovation can play in advancing specific challenge targets.
We’ve also submitted a proposal for a workshop entitled “Building a TERM Roadmap for Organ Disease” to several potential convening partners. The outline proposes a gathering of 50 scientific, government, industry, and philanthropic leaders committed to advancing biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine breakthrough technologies to address organ disease. Participants will define key challenges at the science and system level; identify enabling technologies and quantitative milestones that can be used to inform future research efforts and challenge prize targets; and examine tools and innovation models that can be applied to advance specific goals. Please contact us if you're interested in supporting this effort.
New Organ’s close collaboration with the Organ Preservation Alliance (OPA) continues. OPA has proposed key ideas and facilitated input for several Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer proposals on tissue and organ cryopreservation, currently under review. OPA also secured basic underwriting for the first global “Grand Challenges in Organ Banking” Summit, to be held in Palo Alto, CA in February of 2015. They’ve also updated draft rules for the proposed Organ Banking Prize: a challenge competition to demonstrate long-term storage of a solid organ and subsequent transplantation into a human or large animal.
Finally, New Organ is considering the possibility of a new Vasculature Prize to stimulate the vascularization of thick, functional tissue. Details on this effort, which is currently being explored in coordination with a federal agency, will be forthcoming as discussions progress.
BOWHEAD WHALE REPORT
Our bowhead whale DNA sequencing project, funded by Methuselah donors and led by Dr. Joao Pedro de Magelhaes at the University of Liverpool, has now been completed. Thank you for your generous support of this important work.
To facilitate further research, Dr. de Magelhaes’ team eventually plans to make their data available online. Here’s the abstract from their manuscript, currently in submission:
“The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is estimated to live over 200 years and is possibly the longest-living mammal. These animals should possess protective molecular adaptations relevant to age-related diseases, particularly cancer. Here we report the sequencing and comparative analysis of the bowhead whale genome, accompanied by two individual transcriptomes. Our analysis identified genes under positive selection and several bowhead-specific mutations in genes known to play a role in cancer and ageing. In addition, we identified instances of gene gain and loss with potential phenotypic effects, including in genes associated with DNA repair, cell cycle regulation, cancer and ageing. Our results open new perspectives concerning the evolution of mammalian longevity and provide insights regarding possible players involved in adaptive genetic changes conferring cancer resistance. We also found potentially relevant changes in genes related to thermoregulation, sensory perception, dietary adaptations, and immune response, among other relevant bowhead adaptations.”
We’re excited to report that we recently funded a new study exploring the effects of c60, a potent antioxidant, on human cancer proliferation. This research is being conducted by Ichor Therapeutics, Inc., a pre-clinical biotechnology company focused on age-related pathologies and based in Syracuse, NY. The full press release is available here.
Construction is now complete on phase one of our beautiful monument to the Methuselah 300, located on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. Stay tuned for more details on this—we’re solidifying plans to officially dedicate the monument and open it to the public in February of 2015, and we’ll be sharing more with you this fall.
If you haven’t seen our new blog yet, please check it out and let us know what you think. Now called “The Bristlecone” and fully integrated into our main website, it has continued to feature interviews with leading scientists and innovators in regenerative medicine, including:
Dr. Robert Langer of MIT: On Taking Risks and Thinking Big.
David Green of Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology: Regenerating Organs for Transplant.
Dr. Jennifer Elisseeff of the Translational Tissue Engineering Center at Johns Hopkins: Connecting the Lab and the Clinic.
Up next on the blog will be an interview with Dr. Basak Uygun of the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, one of our six prize team leaders. Look out for it later this week.
As always, best of luck in your own endeavors, and please don’t hesitate to stay in touch.
With warm regards,